While there has been much speculation about the politics, we think there could be more substance than that to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s election as head of the Republican Governors Association.
True, it’s a very part-time post and one in which politics does matter a great deal. As Jindal himself said, the main political achievement, obviously, is to help elect or re-elect Republican governors in the states. And just as obviously, it does give Jindal a reasonably high-profile job to use to travel around the country on political tasks.
But we have hopes that association with his fellow governors will also rub off in terms of ideas that could fuel useful reforms in state government.
In a time when the states, because of retrenchment in federal spending, face large financial challenges, the GOP governors will have to find a way not only to work with the administration of President Barack Obama, but also to generate ideas or programs that work. Successful ideas are the meat and potatoes of future political successes.
As the governor also observed in his Politico.com interview about the GOP’s future, the party must have ideas and proposals — not to mention a track record in the states it controls, such as Louisiana — that can appeal to a national audience in the presidential election of 2016 and further in the future.
A rigid ideological slant in the Jindal administration hasn’t always served Louisiana well, in our view, but we are open to ideas that have been tried in other states, and have that track record of success. And success for a governor in Vermont or Massachusetts might be different than that in the South, and Jindal’s new job will involve sharing good ideas of whatever provenance with his fellow governors.
At the annual meeting of the Bureau of Governmental Research in New Orleans, conservative columnist Kathleen Parker got a laugh when she recalled her “interview” with Jindal — a blizzard of commentary that she jokingly said left her only with the impression that “he is really smart.”
Well, active listening is a part of being smart, too. We hope that the governor can polish those skills in RGA and its related attendance at the events of the bipartisan National Governors Association.